The need for financial education among Americans is often demonstrated with alarming rates of bankruptcy, high consumer debt levels, low savings rates, and other negative outcomes that may be the result of poor family financial management and low financial literacy levels. The collective response by public and private organizations to the accepted and often demonstrated need for financial education has been impressive in size and scope. This article provides an overview of the wide range of programs aimed at improving Americans' financial literacy as well as a short review of the current evidence of the effectiveness of financial education programs. We advocate for the adoption of a comprehensive framework or approach to evaluation to assist those currently delivering, and planning to deliver, financial education and highlight some of the key challenges. A five-tiered approach to program evaluation is described and outlined to provide a general framework to guide financial education evaluation.
While interest in financial management training programs for low-income persons has grown in recent years, the specific training needs of low-income consumers have not been well articulated. This article describes needed training content for such audiences, based on review of previous research and the authors' experiences in evaluating the Financial Links for Low-Income People (FLLIP) program. We also illustrate how the choice of financial management training models can seriously impact the subgroups of the low-income population who attend training, as well as the success of programs in recruiting and graduating participants. The implications of these findings both for financial management curriculum development and for the selection of program models are presented.